tv [untitled] February 1, 2012 4:48am-5:18am PST
she is white. she understood full well the enormity of her offense, but because her desires were stronger than the code she was breaking she persisted in breaking it. she persisted, and her subsequent behavior is something we have all known at one time or another. she tried to put the -- she did something every child has done. she tried to put the evidence of her offense away from her, but in this case she was no child hiding stolen contraband. she struck out as her victim of necessity. she must put him away from her. she must remove him from her presence, from this world. she must destroy the evidence of her offense. what was the evidence of her offense?
tom robinson, a human being. she must put tom robinson away from her. tom robinson was her daily reminder of what she did. what did she do? she tempted a negro. she was white, and she tempted a negro. she did something that in our society is unspeakable. she kissed a black man. not an old uncle but a strong, young, negro man. no code mattered to her before she broke it but it came crashing down on her afterwards. her father saw it and the defendant has testified as to his remarks. what did her father do? we don't know, but there is circumstantial evidence to indicate that mae ella was
beaten savagely by someone who was used almost exclusively to his left. we know in part what mr. yule did. he did what any god-fearing, persevering, respectable white man would do in the circumstances. he swore out a warrant. no doubt signing it with his left hand. and tom robinson now sits before you having taken the oath with the only good hand he possesses. his right hand. so humble, respectable, quiet negro who had the unmitigated at the merit to feel sore -- temerity for a white person. i need not remind you of their
appearance or conduct on the stand. you saw them for yourselves. the witnesses of the state, with the exception of the sheriff of macom county, has presented them to yourselves, you gentlemen, of the court in their confidence that their testimony would not be doubted. believing that you gentlemen would go along with them on the assumption, the evil assumption that all negros lie, that all negros are basically immoral beings, that all negros are not to be trusted around our women. which, gentlemen, as you know in itself a lie as black as tom robinson's skin. a lie i do not need to explain to you. you know the truth and the truth is this -- that some negros lie.
some negros are immoral. some negros are not to be trusted around women, black or white. but this is a truth that applies to the human race and not to any particular race of man. there is not a person in this courtroom who has never told a lie, who has never done an immoral thing and there is no man living who has never looked upon a woman without desire. one more thing, gentlemen, before i quit. thomas jefferson once said that all men are created equal, a phrase which the yankees and the side of the executive branch in washington are fond at hurling at us. there is a tendency in this year of grace, 1935, to use this phrase out of context to
satisfy all conditions, the most ridiculous example i can think of is when the people who run our public education promote that stupid and idle along with the industryous. because all men are created equal, educators gravely tell us the children left behind suffer terrible feelings of inadequacy. we all know that all men are not created equal. in the sense some people would have us believe. some people are smarter than others. some have more opportunity because they're born with it. some men make more money than others. some ladies bake better cakes than others. some people are born gifted beyond the normal scope of most men. but there is one way in our society that all men are
created equal. there is one human institution that makes the pauper the equal of the rockefeller. the stupid man equal of an einstein. the ignoreant man the equal of any college president. that institution, gentlemen, is a court. our court system has its faults, as do all other human institutions. our courts are the great levelers. and in our courts all men are created equal. i know idealists to believe firmly in the integrity of our court and our jury system. that's a living, working reality. gentlemen, a court is only as good as every man of you
sitting before me on this jury. a court is only as sound as its jury and a jury is only as sound as the men who make it up . i'm confident that you will review without passion the evidence you have heard, come to a decision and restore this defendant to his family. in the name of god, do your duty. in the name of god, believe him. [applause] >> what you heard was a literal translation of the book word for word, and we have to remember that this book was
written just at the onset of the civil rights movement. so we're going to talk about this book. we're also going to talk about the written word and how powerful it is in terms of our perceptions of the justice system. so i'd like to now ask our first panel to come to the stage. >> how's that? [laughter] >> well -- >> hi, mary. how you doing? >> good. thanks. how are you? >> great. so we have here via skype, she's live from new york city. i always wanted to say that. [laughter] >> and mary is the author of a book about "to kill a mockingbird" that a she wrote last year, "scout, atticus and
boo," and she's directed and produced a film about "to kill a mockingbird." we're going to watch a clip from that in just a moment. next, we have john j. osborn. if you went to law school, the one book you would have read before going to law school was "the paper chase," and this is a book that john j. osborn wrote. has really become a classic. and it, of course, spawned an oscar-award winning film, same name, and also a television series. he's also written an incredible article about "to kill a mockingbird," so we're going to ask him about that. next we have paulette frankl. and paulette is a courtroom sketch artist. now, how cool is that? that's a pretty cool job, and she spends a lot of time in the courtroom and that's how she
came across tony serra. and she spent 17 years, 17 years compiling the incredible book that she's put together that just came out and is called "lush for justice," and it's a book of incredible illustrations, artwork as well as a narrative. and right next to her we have tony serra, and tony serra is the most prolific trial lawyer of our times. he's tried more cases than any other living lawyer. if you ever had a chance to see him in court, it's just a sight to behold. it really is. we're so grateful that he could be here today. he's trying a triple homicide case right now in oakland. he has a jury out waiting.
you may get called away but we're hope you're able to stay for the panel. finally, we have sheldon siegel. and sheldon siegel is a corporate lawyer who has written a series -- i think seven books now, a fictional criminal defense attorney named mike daley who actually lives here in san francisco. and he's written a series of books and these becomes have been shown and transcribed and read throughout the world. so we're going to start now with a clip, a video clip and then we're going to go to the panel.
>> i think it is our national novel. if there was a national novel of week, this would be it for the united states. i think it's the favorite book of almost everybody you meet. >> the first time in my life that the book had sort of captured me. that was exciting. i didn't realize that literature could do that. >> i remember reading a copy of my aunt's in jamaica queens. it was the first book ever written by a white writer that discussed racism in ways that was complicate and sophisticated. -- complicated and sophisticated. >> a touchstone in american literary and social history.
it's a story gently tugged at the issues of racism. >> she was a champion of people who helped us get liberated from racism in this country. >> harper lee's first and only novel. >> a masterpiece is masterpieces not because they're flawless but because they tap into something essential to us, at the heart of who we are and how -- >> a masterpiece and a mystery. >> of course, one kept hoping and waiting for the next novel. sadly, that never came. >> i cannot imagine what drove harper to silence.
criminal defense lawyers of all century. he's the white tornado in court, the semantic samurai, a shaman, a trickster by others, "lush for justice "by tony serra is a no holds bar description of a man, his belief and the legal system he serves and transforms. filled with murder, drugs and death penalty cases, snitches, the psychological elements of crime, the nullification of and nexus with juries, closing arguments and more. "lust for justice" gets the black robe off the justice system to review what it is, a railroad for prison for minorities. author, artist, paulette frankl
followed tony serra in and out of the courtroom for more than a decade to capture in words and images this man who embodies justice and drama at their best. in "lust for justice" you view the law of one of the greatest practitioners and you'll never look at it the same way again. >> the oldest man on death row is eyeing me from his wheelchair. despite his frail appearance, his baratone is still forceful. walking to the row, mr. daley. he says to me. we need your help. we're running out of time, over 850 inmates is awaiting for lethal injection in california. every one of them is running out of time. thank you for coming in on short notice, he continues. did you have any trouble getting inside?
nothing out of the ordinary, i tell him. i think sometimes, it's harder for lawyers to get into san quentin than it is for clients to get out. it took hours to pass the two metal detectors before i was stuck in a six-by-six-foot wall covered with plexiglas. the death row visitor's area is a stone's throw from a little green chamber which the state of california has its execution. they pass the time going about the monday and the business about incarcerated while their lawyers try to prolong their lives.
ok. we're going to recall her. let's start off with talking about "to kill a mockingbird." and what that book meant. you wrote an article about it, john. as a law professor it was something you focused on as part of legal education. how did you choose that and why? wow. i just want to say, it was wonderful seeing the actor portraying atticus finch.
as i watched that i thought to myself, and i want to know what tony thinks about this, i thought there is no chance that tom robinson is going to get off. you know, that was such an ineffective appeal. now, is it a wonderful speech? it's a wonderful speech. is it beautiful? it's beautiful. is it incredibly well-written? yes. is it going to work? there's no chance. tom robinson must have been listening to that and saying, oh, my god. you know. there's a trick that's being played on you in "to kill a mockingbird." atticus finch represents the last republican lawyer. and i mean republican in the sense of the republic, of thomas jefferson, those kinds of people. the last lawyer who really believes that to enunciate the important principles of america is going to work.
this is in a town where their first reaction -- i mean, tom ewell is an incredibly evil, disgusting person. everybody in town knows that. but they believe him. you know, they're willing to take his word even though they know he's lying completely, they're willing to take his word. they're willing to go out and try to lynch tom robinson, right? they have taken one of their upstanding citizens, bo radley, and locked him in the attic. he's been there for god knows how many years. has anybody in town done anything about it? no. lock your kids in the attic. that's the kind of town you're dealing with. as we're seeing this through the idse of scout, a child, we have -- through the eyes of scout, a child, we have to dig into it ourselves to see what's going on and once you do you realize that atticus doesn't have a chance. there's nobody to appeal to. he's going to lose.
and the moral of "to kill a mockingbird" isn't that atticus finch is a great lawyer or the lawyer that we should follow. the moral of the book and the movie is that the republican lawyer won't work any more. we need a new kind of lawyer. the only way to clean up a town like this is to bring in the federales. you know, everybody's got to go to jail. i mean, these -- you know, if you think about it, who is the real hero of "to kill a mockingbird"? who's the one who sees clearly? it's not atticus finch. he's not even a very intelligent father. i love him. i love him. but who lets your kids out in the middle of the night wearing -- dressed as farm animals and fruit when there's a craze killer who's vowed to get them? you say, fine, you don't need me to walk you home.
you can do it yourself. is that -- is that smart? is that a good dad? bo radley is the one who actually has it straight, right? he knows those kids are going to get into trouble. he's out there and he does something about it. he's the one who gets justice in the book. you know, and so when you really think about it, if you can put through this wonderful vision of the child, if you can stop looking at this problem from a child's point of view, then you'll get a new take on "to kill a mockingbird," i think. you know, one that's much more actually meaningful to you. so -- >> ok. thanks. mary. >> yeah. >> oh, great. we lost you for a minute there. >> i know. >> yeah. so tell us -- how did you choose "to kill a mockingbird" as the subject for your book
and for your film? you know, what made you take this on as a project 50 years after the book was published? >> well, my adult rereading of "to kill a mockingbird" made a far greater impression on me than my adolescent reading ever had, and once that happened i started to just satisfy my own curiousity i started to find out as much as i could about both the novel and the novelist. i was a producer at cbs news for 20 years and i was frequently pitched a story idea but my boss, you know, in the news department, my boss would say, no news, no story. and ms. harper lee hasn't given an interview since 1964, it not be the person who would change her mind. so when i started doing my own
documentary, which is about -- i started it about six years ago, i read the novel again, i did a little more reporting, especially about, you know, the summer of 1960 when the novel was published. and i began to see the story i could tell was the story of the novel. not so much the novelist. and the credible impact that the novel had on the civil rights movement, on lives, on careers and on readers to this very day. so that to me seemed to be the story worth telling and that's when i started working on the documentary. >> and sort of tell us how did you arrive at your understanding of the impact that the book has had, particularly on race relations and, you know, the -- so many people cite the book as a reason why they went to law school. why do you think that's true, particularly in light of the fact that atticus lost the
case? >> well, i mean, it is true that in the research i've done many people did say that atticus finch is the reason that they went to law school. i mean, because this is a lawyer who stood up and did the right thing despite what his neighbors or his family thought. and the thing that's kind of interesting to remember about atticus is that this is set in the 1930's, not set in the 1960's, and atticus was a court-appointed attorney. and what he really did was he gave his client a vigorous defense which is -- was not expected and in fact, what's great at looking at the movie version of "to kill a mockingbird" is the jurors -- some of the jurors sitting in the jury box reading the paper because everybody figured they knew how this trial was going. you know, it tells you something sometimes about what a trial l can do, not just for the people who are on trial but
for everyone who's watching it. and atticus did something that his neighbors and parts of his family didn't expect him to do. i think what's interesting about the novel is america was a deeply divided place. especially in the deep south. segregation was still not yet against the law. and particularly for white southerners, this novel, which caught on, you know, famously and quickly, it gave white southerners a way to think about how they were raised and to think about the system in which they were raised. it did so perhaps in a way that a political speech didn't do because it was told through the eyes of a child. it was a popular story that wasn't just about race, it about growing up in a small town. it was about coming of age. it was about love. it was about lonliness. it had all the suspense. the novel had so many elements
with which to draw people in. >> so the tremendous amount of -- about harper lee. i know she never wrote another book. it was a pulitzer prize-winning book, and the film won the academy award. and yet she never wrote another book. what did you learn about harper lee and her reasons? >> well, i was fortunate enough to get great access to two very close friends of her. a new york city couple who gave their friend, harper lee, money. they remain very, very close dear friends to this day. the other person i was also very privileged and fortunate to talk to was alice finch, harper lee's older sister. alice is one of the first women in alabama who was ever admitted to the bar.
she -- at 99 she's the oldest practicing attorney in the state. she continues to practice every day, and she hopes to celebrate her 100th birthday in september at her law desk. she was quite a character and told me quite a bit about how the lee girls were raised. and her answer to that question is, she quoted her sister saying, she couldn't top what she had done. she had nowhere to go but down. and i think the combination of this kind of overwhelming thing, the somewhat autobiographical nature of what was written about and not to disappoint yourself let alone the other people out there waiting for a second book, all of that -- she writes about the fact that we don't -- that we don't get second novels from don't get second novels from such a wonderful writer.